The Office of the United States Trade Representative calls American small business “The Economic Engine Driving the World Economy”. Yet, when negotiating recently with Russia over the terms of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization, the USTR seems to have focused only on those American businesses with massive lobbying power (e.g., the software, movie, music and pharmaceutical industries). In a document outlining the details of the agreement, the USTR specifically names a single website in Russia (allofmp3.com) that the music industry would like to have targeted for shutdown.
But, in this effort, the USTR ignores a fundamental component of the economic relationship between the U.S. and Russia in the Internet age - the rampant fraud, spam and virus epidemic that is slowly draining resources and money from U.S. citizens and companies alike. Unlike the potentially inflated profit loss estimates from the music and software industries which are based more on wishful thinking than fact, it is possible place a real dollar amount on the amount of money being siphoned from the U.S. economy by phishing and credit card fraud. Although many former Soviet bloc countries are involved and no country is blameless when it comes to internet fraud, Russia harbors more than its fair share of cyber-criminals.